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DORA MAAR

(French, 1907-1997)

Composition in Turquoise and Gray

Oil on Canvas

15 x 21½ Inches

Signed Verso with Monogram, 'DM'

Impressed, Upper Left, with Dora Maar Estate Sale Stamp

(Maison de la Chimie, Paris; October, 1998)

 

Although well-known as Picasso's model and lover, and as his muse during the period of his creation of Guernica (in which she, herself, appears as the lantern-holder), it is often overlooked that Dora Maar was a successful artist and much-published photographer before their paths crossed in 1935. Before her two-year relationship with Picasso, she had already produced a respected body of work and was considered an influential and cutting edge artist. Nevertheless, Dora's relationship with Picasso and her own particular personality as a woman, both in publications about Picasso and in those dedicated to her, have acquired an unusual significance in art-historical literature. Additionally, Dora Maar's close link to the Surrealists can be ascribed both to her widely-observed radiance and enigmatic unapproachability and to the intentional and political artistic statements that underlie her photographs and photomontages of the 1930s.

 

Born in 1907, Henrietta Theodora Markovitch adopted the pen name of Dora Maar during the first years of her photography career. Dora grew up in Buenos Aires and Paris, learned to speak French, Spanish and English fluently and, from 1927 on, attended the art academy of Andre L'hote in Montparnasse. Here, she studied painting, but at the end of the 1920s, she transferred to the Ecole de Photographie de la Ville de Paris and, in the early 1930s, founded a photographic studio together with Pierre Kfer, who was later to make a career as stage designer. Numerous fashion and advertising photographs resulted. These were soon followed by the first Paris exhibitions of her own work.

 

Dora Maar's photographic style in her productive years of the 1930s show clear, surrealist characteristics. In her photographs and photomontages, she frequently plays with shifting proportions, thus echoing an important feature of surrealist pictures. This tendency is augmented by the unreal combination of disparate objects, which robs the photographs of their character of reflecting extreme reality, converting them to expressions of inner visions and psychic states. In parallel to these surreal photographs, Dora Maar produced sobering documentary photographs of her urban environments in Paris, London or Barcelona. Repeatedly, she records, in her photographs, the underprivileged, the unemployed and homeless, the socially or physically weak. It was precisely the simplicity of the photos that enabled Dora Maar to give the day-to-day and the ugly a magnificent monstrosity in which the beautiful and the horrible blend into one another. The recorded reality is thus accompanied by a level of inner associations, fears and visions.

 

The present work, painted in the 1930's, remained in Dora Maar's possession until the end of her life, and shows her early preoccupation with the complex inter-relationship of color and form.

 

This painting is accompanied by a first edition, hard copy of 'Picasso's Weeping Woman: The Life and Art of Dora Maar' by Mary Ann Caws, Bulfinch Press, 2000.

 

Reference:

E. Benezit, Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs, et Graveurs, Jacques Busse, 1999 Nouvelle Édition, Gründ 1911, Vol. 8, p. 899; et al.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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